The late English philosopher Bertrand Russell describes philosophy as such: –
“Mankind, ever since there have been civilized communities have been confronted with problems of two different kinds. On the one hand, there has been the problem of mastering natural forces, of acquiring the knowledge and the skill required to produce tools and weapons and to encourage Nature in the production of useful animals and plants. This problem, in the modern world, is dealt with by science and scientific technique, and experience has shown that in order to deal with it adequately it is necessary to train a large number of rather narrow specialists.
He continues: –
But there is a second problem, less precise, and by some mistakenly regarded as unimportant – I mean the problem of how best to utilize our command over the forces of nature. This includes such burning issues as democracy versus dictatorship, capitalism versus socialism, international government versus international anarchy, free speculation versus authoritarian dogma. On such issues the laboratory can give no decisive guidance.
The kind of knowledge that gives most help in solving such problems is a wide survey of human life, in the past as well as in the present, and an appreciation of the sources of misery or contentment as they appear in history. It will be found that increase of skill has not, of itself, insured any increase of human happiness or wellbeing.
Philosophy for Laymen (1946)
Philosophical knowledge, if what has been said above is true, does not differ essentially from scientific knowledge; there is no special source of wisdom which is open to philosophy but not to science, and the results obtained by philosophy are not radically different from those obtained from science.
….The essential characteristic of philosophy, which makes it a study distinct from science, is criticism.”…
The above describes both the focus (the forces of nature) and method (criticism) that one should adopt in thinking and practicing philosophy. Indeed one should engage in philosophical “uncertainty” – in the sense that this “uncertainty” is determined by a sense of childlike curiosity and a fundamental breaking apart of ideas, behaviors and assumptions of everyday life in Singapore.
Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.